ETFO strikes affecting elementary schools across KPDSB
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Educators in Sioux Lookout joined elementary schools across the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) in a one-day, full withdrawal of services on Jan. 27.
The KPDSB has since announced that all KPDSB elementary schools, which includes Sioux Mountain Public School, will be closed on Feb. 5 (today) and 6 while Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) members participate in a two-day strike.
A statement from Sherri-Lynne Pharand, KPDSB Director of Education, reads, “All KPDSB elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will be CLOSED to students on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, and Thursday, February 6, 2020. Childcares and EarlyON Centres in our schools will remain open, but before and after school programming will not be operating… All KPDSB secondary schools (Grades 9-12) will remain open to students on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, and Thursday, February 6, 2020, at this time. The withdrawal of services by ETFO members does not impact our Grade 9-12 students in secondary schools.”
KPDSB Secondary Schools are remaining open, but the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) is continuing their fight against larger class sizes and mandatory e-learning.
“Our biggest beef right now is class sizes, so the government is proposing much larger class sizes in the future. That’s going to impact the number of teaching positions and it’s going to impact the number of courses available to students in high school, so it’s going to be a negative effect on education for sure,” said Marvin Osmond, OSSTF District 5A (Northern Shield), TBU President .
“The government is proposing, they started with four, mandatory e-learning courses and now they’ve backed off and said they will go to two mandatory e-learning courses, which means that all students must complete two e-learning courses in order to graduate so it will become a requirement. We do know that e-learning is not for everyone, especially some of our more vulnerable students, and that will have a very negative impact on their education,” he continued.
Osmond said no progress has been made at the negotiation tables.
“As of right now, we’ve made no progress since it’s started. The government is refusing to come to the table with a reasonable deal. They’re only interested in cutting, so they’re interested in saving money on the backs of students. We’re fighting for the future of education in Ontario,” said Osmond.
On Jan. 27, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement regarding further escalation by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO):
“Teacher union leaders once again are breaking their promise to parents as they proceed with a full one-day withdrawal of services, province-wide. The consequences of union-led escalation are real, as families are forced to find child care on short notice.
“Repeated escalation at the expense of our students, to advance higher compensation, higher wages, and even more generous benefits, is unacceptable for parents and students in our province. We firmly believe students should be in class, which is why we continue to stand ready to negotiate to reach a deal Ontario students deserve.”